Film Photography News — March 2023 Recap

🌷XTRA: Pentax, Rollei, Polaroid, MiNT, DPReview, Chroma, VALOI, Dunkbot +1

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What’s new?

I typically publish Community Letters/Film Photography News Recaps on the last Tuesday of every month. However, this March, two time-sensitive projects were launched and I’d like you to know about them before they become stale. Those projects are:

Instant Box Camera on Kickstarter and the new VALOI easy35 tool for scanning film.

However, those aren’t the only news for this month. Two new film cameras are in the works by MiNT — and we have updates. A new Instax camera and Fujifilm’s social app. Chroma Camera updates its panoramic film camera. And Dunkbot — the “affordable automatic film processor” has got 23 days left on its Kickstarter campaign, having launched on March 3rd. And more: including hot news from Pentax and Rollei.

💬 How was your February? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Instant Box Camera.

Instant Box Camera is a new project on Kickstarter by Lukas Birk. As of this writing, it earned 3x of its funding goal and is set to conclude in seven days on March 30th.

This unique camera, made of lightweight wood materials is designed to take large-format photographs and develop them on the spot (all done by hand). This works thanks to the box camera having a dual function as a “darkroom” or a rigid changing bag that can host the chemical baths. Lucas notes that you can use a variety of processes to get the images out of your Box Camera, including the standard negative-positive process, direct positive process, colour (RA4), and film mediums.

This project isn’t Lukas’ first rodeo. He’s a lot of experience building these cameras, notably during his work for Afghan Box Camera Project.

In his video pitch, Lukas adds that this is the cheapest way to create instant photos (given that Polaroid frames are about $2 per photo).

If you’re looking to get your own Instant Box Camera, consider making up your mind quickly as the final date to order is approaching quickly.

Alternatively, you can look for Lucas’ (and others’) resources to build yours at home.

VALOI easy35.

VALOI easy35.

Launched just over a day ago, the VALOI easy35 project is already over 50% funded on IndieGoGo.

VALOI easy35 is an attachment for a digital camera lens (macro required) with a built-in light source and 35mm film flat holder to simplify the process greatly. The results Arild Edvard Båsmo shared on IndieGoGo look promising and compare favourably against the flatbed scanners.

Dedicated film scanners are likely to still produce better results (it’s possible to get sharp 100MP scans from 35mm film), but the process takes a lot more time and desk space. This could be a fantastic option for someone like me living in a small apartment.

VALOI easy35 uses a clever film-holding device to ensure that your entire frame is in focus and it preserves a thin border around full 35mm frames — which is also a nice option.

There are 29 days left in the campaign, which should be ample time for you to make up your mind.

MiNT film camera updates.

This month, MiNT Camera reports two “ground-breaking” updates to its instant film TLR design and an update to the assembly for their premium compact 35mm film point-and-shoot camera.

The image that you see here is an actual work in progress at the MiNT shop that appears to have a camera body resembling Rollei 35.

I am very excited to see a new film camera of that shape and size. Although it’s possible that the design of the body will change many times over by the time the camera hits the store shelves. Which isn’t likely to come this year or even the next year as products like these require a working prototype and a fine-tuned assembly line with supply and distribution networks.

Fujifilm’s new Instax camera and a social media app.

Kosmo Foto reports on Fujifilm’s announcement for their Instax Mini 12 camera with improvements to the image quality, bubbly body design, and a social media app to help you digitize your frame collection while sharing it across the web.

The camera appears to work as you’d expect — exposing light directly onto film — while the app is just an interface for your mobile device to photograph your frames.

Chroma Camera’s new CubePan.

Chroma Camera’s CubePan update.

CubePan is a 3D-printed camera body that takes Mamiya Press lenses to create panoramic exposures on 35mm film (like Hasselblad XPan). Like XPan, it can switch formats — from 24x24mm and 24x48mm to 24x72mm.

CubePan can make images even wider than XPan’s 24x65mm — though scanning the 72mm-wide exposures sounds even harder. It’s fully mechanical and significantly cheaper than the incredible product of the Hasselblad/Fujifilm collaboration. This year, it adds a darkslide holder to help you switch lenses on the go, a new grip, improvements to the lens mount, and new colours.


Dunkbot is a cleverly-named mini dip and dunk lab by Matt Bechberger, whom you may recognize from his Reveni Labs Light Meter project.

I love the way it sounds and looks, though so far, the project is only ⅛ funded. Perhaps you can help advance this tool towards the creation (at $1K a piece)? The advantages of using Dunkbot are the speed and the multitude of formats it could process. The disadvantages are the price and the over-engineered (in my opinion) design that may not be a significant improvement over the Patterson “tank and reels” setup.

Pentax PC35AF is a fixed 35mm f/2.8 lens 35mm point-and-shoot. Launched in 1982, Japan.

Pentax teases manual film advance in its upcoming analogue camera release.

Late last year, Pentax announced their intention to make film cameras again. Today, they revealed a design feature — manual film advance — that will be a part of their first camera. Kosmo Foto reports.

I can’t say if it’s a good thing or not: my Pentax PC35AF that I reviewed earlier on Analog.Cafe had the same “feature” that made using film a bit of a challenge with certain canisters; whereas other cameras with the standard winder lever, like the classic Olympus OM-1, made it easy.

Let’s see how this pans out.

Tweets from a brand new Rollei account announcing their new camera. Rest assured, enough jokes were made about 4.20.🌿

Rollei teases a “DTLR” on Twitter.

The German brand Rollei, known for their iconic TLR and miniature 35mm film cameras, has been little more than a name since the 1980s. The only new products you’ll see that name on today are film and the MiNT instant film camera co-brand. (The film is produced by MACO — not Rollei.)

And yet, despite the brand’s limited experience and success in camera-making during the past 40 years, the company has announced something new in that exact department. They call it a “DTLR,” which I presume stands for a digital TLR.

This announcement landed a skeptical reaction from the community who have been previously burned by Yashica’s shoddy attempt at a digital camera design — with poor quality and gimmicky features.

Rollei’s upcoming digital camera specs, released on Twitter with a #RE1X tag (presumably the “DTLR”s model name or ID).

But as the speculations began to pour in — mostly pessimistic — the company shared their list of specs that sound rather impressive. A built-in 70mm 𝒇2.8 lens (maybe for a medium format sensor?) in a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body with a waist-level viewfinder at 850g.

Now, this sounds (cautiously) exciting.

Update: looks like we’ve been duped. See the comments below for the latest.

After 25 years, DPReview shuts its website down.

Amazon is shutting DPReview down as part of its massive layoffs this year. Known as one of the ultimate resources for digital camera reviews (I’ve even used them as a source on this website), the website’s scheduled to go offline in the very near future.

Frankly, I’m more surprised to learn of Amazon’s ownership of DPReview (since 2007) than the giant’s unceremonious destruction of assets the reader and I may think of as invaluable.

Alas, all content that is online is actively supported by electricity and infrastructure that can not last or be owned forever. And thus, this website will sometime be no more. It’s a fact of life, though if you care, you can buy a book I wrote as a memento for the inevitable future to come or support this project on Buy Me A Coffee to help pay the hosting fees and extend its life.

Polaroid 600 Green Duochrome edition, with an unmodded SX-70.

Almost forgot!

Polaroid has just released an update to their I-Type cameras, named Generation 2. The biggest changes are the 40% recycled materials that make up the new bodies and improvements to the optics.

Latest on Analog.Cafe.

Analogue WonderLab Film Printing Service Review — Paul’s new business venture at one of the UK’s best-known film retailers and development labs — reviewed.

Shoot Polaroid 600 Film in SX-70 With Backlit Scenes — fifty years past its release, SX-70 is still the only instant film camera that’s also a foldable SLR with high-quality optics. But it can’t use the modern ISO 600 film without modifications or a flash. This method, however, lets you shoot the 600 film in your virgin SX-70 without any mods (but the light has to be just right).

How to Store & Organize Film & Film Scans — a system that saves space and sanity for anyone who shot more than one roll of film.

Hasselblad XPan/Fuji TX-1 Pano Rangefinder Review — this camera is incredible/ultra-rare and very expensive.

Fujichrome Provia 400X Slide Film Review — some call it the best colour film ever produced.

A Film Photographer’s Note-Taking App — I consider this app essential to my workflow; without it, I wouldn’t know which film is in which camera, how to process it, and what to expect. It just received a major update.

Polaroid Green Duochrome Film Review — a strange, wild, and difficult film to get right; a discontinued creative weapon.